DALLAS — Big 12 Media Days arrive Monday at the downtown Omni Hotel. It’s an event that annually raises as many questions as answers, but we won’t let that deter us. In honor of the number of schools in the misnamed conference, here are a big 10 questions that can be answered in the next two days about your favorite football league:
1. Can new Texas coach Charlie Strong come close to commanding a room the way Mack Brown did? Mack’s Tennessee charm played awfully well for 16 Longhorn seasons. But now he’s been replaced by what appears to be a no-nonsense coach who learned well under the stoic Urban Meyer. Can Strong win us over? If so, that’s a good sign he can win over the Texas fan base.
2. Can Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury explain not giving quarterback Baker Mayfield a release? The poster child for the lack of collegiate athletes’ rights is the curious case of Mayfield, who as a true freshman walk-on last season won the Tech quarterback job, eventually lost it and decided to transfer. But NCAA rules allowed Tech to forbid Mayfield from getting a scholarship elsewhere for a year, even though he didn’t have one in Lubbock. Mayfield now is at OU, sitting out a season and paying his own way.
3. Can Mike Gundy explain his no-shows this summer, notably skipping the ESPN “car wash” this week? Of the 64 coaches of major-conference schools, Gundy is the only one not attending. He’s got a valid reason, attending his son’s baseball tournament, but with charter flights, there seems little reason Gundy couldn’t make the majority of both events. Not a lot of coaches making $4 million a year fly commercial that often.
4. Does Baylor plan to upgrade its schedule now that the Bears are nationally prominent? Baylor’s 2014 schedule includes SMU, Buffalo and Northwestern Louisiana. In 2015, SMU, Lamar and Rice. In 2016, SMU and Rice. In 2017 and 2018, Texas-San Antonio and Duke. 2019, Incarnate Word, Texas-San Antonio and Rice.
5. Will Bob Stoops explain his reasons for taking Missouri transfer Dorial Green-Beckham? Green-Beckham had two marijuana-related arrests at Mizzou and was accused by two Missouri coeds of pushing one of them down a flight of stairs. That prompted his dismissal from the Tiger football team. Now Green-Beckham is seeking a waiver to become immediately eligible at OU. If he sits out the season, he could declare for the NFL Draft without ever playing for the Sooners.
6. Has Charlie Weis found some humility? Weis always seems to be a great quote — if you’re not on the receiving end, such as when he referred to his KU talent as a “pile of crap.” After seasons of 1-11 and 3-9 at Kansas, is Weis a little more humble?
7. Is the Big 12 capable of any more absurd marketing slogans? Three years ago, the Big 12 touted its new-look conference as being in a solitary time zone. Four months later, West Virginia was invited to the conference, to replace Missouri. And the Big 12 still promotes its “One True Champion” format in football, even though in the 12-team format there was no possibility of co-champions and now with the 10-team format there is. In fact, OU and Kansas State shared the 2012 title.
8. Will Dana Holgorsen admit he’s under fire at West Virginia? The Mountaineers came into the Big 12 off scoring 70 points in the Orange Bowl. But they’ve gone 7-6 and 4-8 the last two years with two losing conference records. West Virginia lost to Kansas and Iowa State in 2013, and fan apathy is rising in Morgantown.
9. Has Bill Snyder changed in the least? When Snyder was hired at Kansas State, Barry Switzer still was the coach at Oklahoma. And in that span of more than a quarter century, Snyder has not changed. No reason to think he’s wavered now, but it’s always fascinating to see the Manhattan icon just as consistent as always.
10. Does Texas A&M transfer Matt Joeckel have a chance to start at quarterback for TCU? The Horned Frogs have been solid in two Big 12 seasons, but they haven’t contended for a title because of subpar quarterback play. TCU’s search for a difference-making QB continues.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.